Hear me out on this:
It's no secret that Max Rockatansky is supposed to be a man's man. He's a hero for men, historically. He's supposed to be the lone wolf, the mad dog, the survivor on a quest. Okay, no argument there, right?
So, men expect to love Max. They want Max to be someone they can look up to and who inspires them; who makes them feel good about themselves.
And he doesn't.
In fact, he does the opposite.
He makes them realize their shortcomings. He reminds them that there are men out there who do the right thing just to do the right thing, even if a woman is involved. There are men who help women and don't expect anything (sex) in return.
And if they are men who do not fit that mold; if they are men who have it in their heads that if they buy a woman a drink, they should get a blow job later and are pissed when the woman doesn't kneel that night, well...that stings.
Here is this man, leaps above them on the evolutionary ladder despite his madness and his ghosts and his harsh environment, and he's right in their face, showing them how to be a better man. They don't like that. They don't want to be better men. They want to continue to fuck everything that moves, whether she wants them to or not. They are perfectly happy with what they assume is their penis-bearing rights.
So Max makes them squirm.
Add to that that Max has no superpowers, and it's doubly hurtful for them, because every one of them is able to be Max. They can do the right thing if they want to. It doesn't take alien superpowers or an iron suit or even a radioactive bug/storm/accident/whatever.
Any man can be Max.
Any man can be Max.
But most of them aren't.
Most of them wouldn't help anyone without a reward (by the way, this isn't limited to men only, ladies - most of us wouldn't help people out of the kindness of our hearts, either, which is why the ones who do are truly amazing people), and certainly not if the anyone has a vagina.
Because if a vagina is involved, any help should involve gratitude, and gratitude should be expressed with a vagina allowing a penis in it, right? Or at the very least with the woman in question fawning all over the man and wanting to spend the rest of her life worshipping his glory?
Yes, according to these cretins, even if they don't realize they think this way. (The latter are the ones who are just vaguely unsettled by Max in Fury Road but can’t quite say why.)
And Max proves them dead wrong.
For Max, gratitude is expressed with a simple nod and a going on his way.
So, Max makes some men uncomfortable, because he’s better than them and they know it. Others simply can't fathom him. He’s as alien to that group as consent.
They can't understand how a man can just help a woman just for the sake of helping.
There's no ulterior motive in Max. He's not in it for sex or anything else except to help. Hell, he doesn't even stay for the party, and he doesn't reap the praise.
And that makes no sense to their little (and I mean that in the typical metaphoric way) heads.
Why would Max do that? they wonder.
Because he's a big damn hero, that's why.
But no, they argue, he's no hero. He's not the main character. He doesn't drive the plot of the movie, as any good hero should.
Well, newsflash, boys. Not everything’s about you. The story can be about someone and something else and you can still be a hero. Furiosa is the protagonist (and yes, another hero –there can be more than one, guys, and having one badass does not diminish another – I could go on and on about how lovely Furiosa is and why she sticks in the craw of some men, too, but that’s not the point here) of Fury Road, but Max is the hero to me, because he’s the one with the purest motives. There’s literally nothing to gain for him, as opposed to Furiosa and the wives, who have a lot at stake.
Also, on that plot thing? Without Max, the movie has no climax, but ends with a group of women and a single man riding off into the desert to who knows what. I suppose that's okay, but wasn't that big battle and the bad guy getting his better? Yeah, that was Max's idea, kids, so he drives the plot just fine.
And these confused men blink and just repeat the same argument, because they can’t think of anything else to say because they don’t want to admit the truth: that they don’t like Max because he makes them realize how much they suck.
Now, most of those men know that they're wrong, deep down. They know Max is a hero in every way. And when the tiny part of them that whispers at them to do the right thing just because it's the right thing starts wanting to cheer for Max, they're embarrassed of themselves and the fact that they don't do better. But they can’t admit that, because it would seem like weakness, and gods forbid a man in our society show weakness (which is bullshit, by the way).
So they stick to their guns and dig their heels in the sand and complain about how the movie was okay, but that it “wasn’t a Mad Max movie” if they’re kind and if they’re not, they go online and lambast the film and every woman they can find and whine about how feminism has ruined their lives and who is going to stand up for them, goddammit?
And they do not realize that they’re biting their own tails.
Because if they were more men like Max, there would be no need for feminism.
Now, just to get it out of the way/finish up, I must address Max’s motivation. I said above that Max had nothing to gain from helping Furiosa and the wives, and I stand by that, but allow me to elaborate, because it matters. Some say Max did what he did to save his own skin. Yes, that's true - in the beginning. But at the crucial moment, when he was given a chance to go out on his own and leave the group to fend for themselves, he didn't. When he had the opportunity to just get the hell out of Dodge and make his own way, as he had been doing for so long, he didn’t. He started to, but like Han Solo, he turned around. Not only that, he gave them another option that might work better and then let them decide what to do with that.
The women went for his plan and guess what? He helped them accomplish it. He didn't have to do that. He didn't have to go back at all, and he certainly didn't have to help with his crazy scheme.
But he did, and the plan worked. The day was saved and the bad guy got his in the end.
And unlike Han Solo, Max didn't get a medal.
All he got was a nod.
Like I said:
Big. Damn. Hero.